Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pray for happiness (Ευτυχιαν ευχου)

I came to Hellenismos from a Three-fold-Law-filled path. I sent years not asking anything from the Gods for myself. The closest I ever got was asking to grand me the strength to aid someone else. I realized even back then that the Law was limiting the magick I practiced, so I stopped practicing it all together. I never subscribed to the 'love and light' mentality. When I transitioned to Hellenismos, letting go of the Law was like a weight had been lifted. Suddenly, I had the freedom to ask for things I needed badly in my life, without feeling guilty. I didn't expect the Theoi to grand any of my pleas, but They did, in most cases.

One of the Delphic Maxims is to 'pray for happiness' (Ευτυχιαν ευχου). It's one of the maxims that were so opposite to the practice I left behind, it felt positively alien. You can imagine how my first sacrifices went. To give you a hint, it went a bit like this:

"Blessed Goddess Hestia, Goddess of home and hearth, accept these offerings of incense sweet and barley white. If my offerings please you, and you erm... you... wouldn't mind spending a little time on my family, please keep us safe and erm... we could really use an opportunity for work and money because things get tight and well... okay, I'm rambling, I'm sorry. Please, don't be offended. I'm sorry, I'll go away now."

I got better at it; pretty fast, actually.

I go on about kharis a lot on this blog, and rightly so. Kharis, the reciprocity between us and the Theoi, is one of the cornerstones of Hellenismos. In fact, I think it may be the goal of Hellenismos as a whole. If not, why bother? And I don't mean any disrespect by that, not to Hellenists, and most definitely not to the Theoi. But isn't it true that we sacrifice and are pious because we need something of the Theoi? Part of it comes from the goodness of our hearts, but mostly, we would like some divine aid when we really need it. At the least, we practice so the Theoi won't smite us.

The ancient Hellens prayed to the Theoi for everything. They prayed for health when someone got sick, they prayed for wealth or food when they were poor, they prayed for protection when they were in trouble, they prayed for courage and honor in battle, and they prayed for guidance in times of turmoil. In short, they prayed for happiness. Small statues were found in shrines with inscriptions of wishes, very often for fertility and/or protection, especially for Goddesses who had those domains in Their portfolio.

This maxim is a stark reminder of the ancient value of kharis, and it proved very liberating to me. How do you feel about this maxim? Does it go against what you've been taught or does it match what you've been practicing?

2 comments:

Memory Walker said...

The 'I dedicate this in hopes that you will grant me enough to dedicate something else next year' reciprocity system actually seems to me an immensely practical spiritual system. At least everyone's cards are out on the table. How many systems of religion *don't* involve asking for what's needed, even if in a very backhanded way?

Elani Temperance said...

Not a lot, but it does seem to be prevalent in Neo-Paganism. And yes, kharis does seem to work very well :)